REDD+ in India: managing carbon storage and biodiversity safeguarding in national forest politics?

FNI Report 13/2014. Lysaker, FNI, 2014, 45 p.

The report analyses India's approach towards the mechanism on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+), with particular attention to India's handling of both carbon and biodiversity matters.
 The evolution of REDD+ under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is reviewed. Based on a conceptual section on the meaning of 'safeguards' the report then provides an overview of the policy measures that the REDD+ debate has triggered from various transnational actors in response to concerns that its implementation might impact adversely on biodiversity. After a discussion of India's positioning in these international debates, the second part of the report analyses the country's institutional, legislative, financial and operational assets and challenges as regards realizing REDD+ along with biodiversity safeguarding on the ground.
Internationally, India has been a leading country in expanding the scope of a forest-based mitigation instrument in developing countries from carbon sinks to wider concerns, including biodiversity. Domestically, India has repeatedly stated that it has much to gain from REDD+, carbon benefits and other ecosystem services alike. Still, it is found that India has not moved far in bringing REDD+ into function on the ground and thus has not reaped the potential benefits for biodiversity of REDD+
The report points to a degree of ambiguity in India's position on REDD + both nationally and internationally. While it has supported a multi-purpose REDD+, India has also supported the inclusion of industrial/short rotation plantations in a definition of forests eligible for REDD+ funding. Such plantations are known to have potentially adverse effects on biodiversity. While this corresponds to India’s own ambitious target of doubling the area for afforestation and forest restoration, it also opens the door for transformation of biodiversity-rich areas.



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